Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jury Duty... Again?!

Some people go their entire lives without being called, but I somehow managed to once again spend the past week of my life serving jury duty. This time I was summoned to the King County Superior Court, and unlike my last round, things started happening almost immediately.

After watching a short video and filling out some forms, I was called with 60 other people into a courtroom for jury selection. The trial would be a criminal case of child molestation and child rape... by the victims' father. Wow. I was horrified by the accusations, and fascinated wondering how the trial would play out in this type of a case. I've always been fascinated by our legal system, even more so since I finished the Paralegal Certification Program at UW about a year and a half ago.

We sat through a couple hours of questioning and then returned after lunch for jury selection. Both attorneys started dismissing people for cause right and left. Every time someone in the main box of jurors was dismissed, someone from the gallery seats was brought up to take their place. Suddenly it was my turn, and as I took my new seat the judge announced that selections were complete. I was officially juror #2.

For the next two days I arrived at the courtroom by 8:45am and joined the other jurors in a tiny room behind the courtroom. Around 9am we were led out to sit through about an hour or two of witness testimony (court inevitably started late each day), followed by a 15 minute (often much longer) morning break, then a lunch break (between 1.5 to 2 hours), then another hour or two of witness testimony followed by an afternoon break (at least 15 minutes, if not more) and finally trial would conclude for the day somewhere between 3pm and 4pm. Are you getting the idea that we took a lot of breaks? I would love to have this schedule at my real job! Instead, I happened to be assigned to jury duty right when my office was super slammed, so every day at lunch and when we were done with court for the day I raced up to my office four blocks away to sneak in an hour or two of work. It was all pretty exhausting.

Even though the trial seemed to be taking an extra long time because half of the witnesses did not speak English and required translators, we actually concluded ahead of schedule and soon it was time to deliberate. After listening to the entire case and testimonies of all the witnesses, I had a good idea of which way my vote would go, but I was really looking forward to experiencing the deliberation process. However, it was at this point that I was selected as an alternate juror, and excused from the courtroom! Apparently the courts always have 14 jurors sit through cases and then randomly select two alternates who are not required to deliberate. I felt as though I had read almost an entire book only to find that the pages of the last chapter were ripped out!

Back to work I went.

Later the next day the court called to inform me that the defendant had been found guilty on all counts (raping and molesting two of his four daughters). I felt relieved because that's the verdict I would have chosen, but I still wonder how things unfolded in the jury room... I guess I'll never know.

So at this point I have been selected as a juror twice in the past three years, and I must say that I feel I've served my civic duty for a while... it's someone else's turn!!

1 comment :

  1. just read this! omg that sounds super interesting, i would have been p.o'd to be pulled out at the last minute too but glad he was found guilty-- that is crazy, poor daughters!!!


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